The first time I did a values identification exercise I was twenty-four years old and about to settle into my career in employee development. I was told that getting specific and declaring five to ten values is a powerful way to be more aligned, resilient and feel more fulfilled. (Read more about the superpowers of knowing you core values here). Although it was difficult to narrow it down to just five, I wasn’t surprised with what came up and I left that meeting with reinforced confidence and core values in hand.
Over the next few years, although change happened, (moved across the country, got married, and went to grad school) I was still progressing along my chosen path without paying much attention to whether my core values aligned to my daily life. I woke up, worked hard, had fun and went to bed. No big deal.
And then I became a mom.
And then I became a working mom.
All of a sudden, or so it seemed, my values failed to give me the same motivation they once did. I spent a lot of energy trying to re-align my life to my previous values, only to find myself exhausted, unfulfilled and questioning everything. I didn’t give myself any grace, convinced it was my own weakness getting in the way of feeling aligned again. After all, family was one of my values and now I had a child. Career was another value and I had a great job. Why was I feeling like this? My inner voice was like a broken record, “I must not be doing enough, I must not be good enough…”
I assumed “core values” were permanent. As if they were something I was born with that would remain unchanged, a part of my DNA.
My identity was wrapped up in these values and I underestimated the ability of a major life event to revolutionize the pillars of who I was. Looking back I can’t remember what triggered me to go through the process of declaring my core values again, but when I gave myself permission to let go of my previous values and open myself up to the present, my life shifted into focus.
I learned that values can, and perhaps should, morph with major life events, changes in trajectory or even simply, the passage of time.
Recently I have changed a lot of what my professional life looks like. Getting Hillary Bennett Consulting off the ground and exploring what my contribution to the world should be has required big shifts in most areas of my life. My days have been chaotic and divided, maintaining my day job, nurturing my fledgling business, and caring for my family. More often than not, I finish the day feeling frustrated that progress in one area requires sacrifice in another.
In a recent conversation, a dear friend asked me if I had ever done a values exercise. “Of course!” I replied without hesitation. And then she followed up, “What are they?”
In that moment I realized, once again, my life had changed but I hadn’t taken the time to observe if my core values had changed as well.
Have you gone through a major transition, or want life to change but don’t know where to start? Click here to get my free values worksheet and in five minutes or less you will be empowered to make decisions and take actions that are in harmony with your soul.